Hello fellow practitioners. Today’s column deals with the additional points awarded under Express Entry for Canadian education.
I have two questions about the additional points for Canadian education awarded under Express Entry’s Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS).
I have a client who was enrolled in a one-year graduate program in Canada. While the program would be completed in one year when pursuing full-time studies, the client completed it in two years by studying part-time. Will he still be eligible for the 15 additional points for Canadian education under Express Entry?
I noticed that section 30(3)(b) of the Ministerial Instructions states that a requirements of this educations is that the person “"was enrolled in full-time study or training for at least eight months".
Section 30(2) of the Ministerial Instructions provides that "Points are to be assigned under subsection (1) only for the eligible credential corresponding to the highest level of education for which the foreign national meets the requirements of subsection (3)”.
Does this mean that if the person had previously completed a higher level of education abroad (e.g. a PhD), then the program they took in Canada (e.g. a Graduate Certificate) would not awarded additional points for Canadian education?
Before we answer our reader’s questions for this week, we will reproduce the entire text of the section that deals with the allocation of points for a Canadian educational credential under the “Ministerial Instructions Respecting the Express Entry System”.
Points for Canadian educational credential
30 (1) The points that may be assigned for Canadian educational credential factors are the following:
(a) 0 points, if the foreign national has a secondary school educational credential;
(b) 15 points, if the foreign national has an eligible credential from a one-year or two-year post-secondary program; and
c) 30 points, if the foreign national has
(i) an eligible credential from a post-secondary program of three years or more,
(ii) an eligible credential from a university-level program at the master’s level or at the level of an entry-to-practice professional degree for an occupation listed in the National Occupational Classification matrix at Skill Level A for which licensing by a provincial regulatory body is required, or
(iii) an eligible credential from a university-level program at the doctoral level.
Highest level of education
(2) Points are to be assigned under subsection (1) only for the eligible credential corresponding to the highest level of education for which the foreign national meets the requirements of subsection (3).
(3) Points are only assigned under subsection (1) if, for the purpose of obtaining the credential, the foreign national
(a) studied in Canada at a Canadian educational institution;
(b) was enrolled in full-time study or training for at least eight months; and
(c) was physically present in Canada for at least eight months.
(4) For the purpose of this section, an eligible credential is one of the following:
(a) a degree, diploma, certificate or trade or apprenticeship credential from a Canadian public post-secondary institution or from a Canadian private post-secondary institution that operated under the same rules and regulations as a Canadian public post-secondary institution;
(b) a diplôme d’études professionnelles (DEP) or an attestation de spécialisation professionnelle (ASP) earned through a program of study of at least 900 hours from a private secondary or post-secondary institution in Quebec; or
(c) a Bachelor’s, Master’s or doctoral degree from a Canadian private post-secondary institution, if a provincial statute authorizes that institution to confer that credential.
(5) For the purpose of this section, the following are not eligible credentials:
(a) credentials obtained in a study or training program in which the study of English or French as a second language amounted to more than half of the program;
(b) credentials obtained in a study or training program in which distance learning amounted to more than half of the program; or
(c) credentials obtained in a study or training program while receiving a scholarship or fellowship that stipulated that the recipient return to their home country to apply the knowledge and skills gained.
Our reader’s first question deals with subsection 30(3) of the Ministerial Instructions. More specifically, our reader wants to know whether to be awarded additional points for Canadian education, the international student must have been enrolled in full-time studies.
Our plain reading of this section confirms that full-time study is a requirement for these additional Express Entry points. We see the condition that the student be enrolled “full-time” AND for “at least eight months” as two separate requirements. Even if a student completed a program that is more than eight months duration, they would not be eligible for these additional points if it was completed through part-time studies.
The requirements that a student be enrolled in full-time studies and in a program that is at least 8 months are found in determining the eligibility for another immigration benefit, the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). It is not surprising that the government made the policy decision to make the requirements for a PGWP and additional points for Canadian education consistent.
The exception to this requirement is the student’s last term of studies, should they only require part-time enrollment to complete their program. As a result, if they need to switch to part-time status in the last term, they will still be eligible for the additional Express Entry points for Canadian education. This is the same exemption that is made for part-time students during the last term of studies in terms of their eligibility to work under R186(f) and (v), or apply for a PGWP. Students who take part-time course loads during scheduled breaks (e.g. summer terms) should also be eligible for the additional Express points for Canadian education, as long as they remain enrolled full-time during the regular terms.
The easiest way to test our interpretation of this section of the Ministerial Instructions is to upload the client’s profile and see whether the system awards extra points for a Canadian degree/diploma that was declared to be completed though part-time studies. While we have not encountered that exact situation, we suspect that the candidate will not be awarded the additional points.
Our reader’s second question deals with subsection 30(2) of the Ministerial Instructions. The wording of this section is identical to sections 11(2) and 17(2) of the Ministerial Instructions. These sections deal with the core points to be awarded to an Express Entry candidate for their own level of education or their spouse’s level of education.
What these sections refer to is that the points are not cumulative, but rather awarded based on the highest level of education. For example, if a candidate has a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree, they will only be awarded the points corresponding to the Master’s degree and cannot add the points of the Master’s in addition to the points awarded to the Bachelor’s degree. The same applies to studies completed in Canada. A person will not be eligible for additional points per Canadian degree, but rather to the points that correspond to the “highest level of education” completed in Canada.
If a client completed a PhD abroad and an eligible two-year college degree in Canada, they will be able to claim the additional points for Canadian education in addition to the core points that would be awarded for the PhD (assuming that it was properly assessed by an ECA institution).